Ascent of Ice Box on 2017-10-05

Climber: Milda Tautvydas

Date:Thursday, October 5, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Ice Box
    Elevation:8112 ft / 2472 m

Ascent Trip Report

With David Salinger. Left TH for Carne Mtn High Route on 10-04 and made camp at 7000+' col on the Chipmunk Creek-Box Creek divide. On 10-05 climbed Ice Box, then packed up camp and carried over Freezer summit to Ice Lakes basin and set up camp on the NE corner (ENE corner) of Upper Ice Lakes, then ascended North Spectacle Butte and made a recon of a route to Buckskin Mtn. On 10-06 we woke to unsettled weather. We waited until 9:00 AM to figure out if weather was good enough to go for Buckskin Mtn. We left camp after 9:00 AM for Buckskin by descending from the col west of N Spec Butte summit, and down a glacier basin, steep timbered slopes, and a drainage gully to the Entiat River. We forded the river to the north bank (easy ford), then ascended Buckskin Mtn's south slope (SE) to the east ridge and scrambled on the ridge westerly, staying on the crest and over a couple of airy gendarmes to just before the summit block, where we descended a short way to gullies and ledges below the summit tower, then scrambled up the final summit tower to the top. We enjoyed the summit for 1/2 and hour, then descended gullies directly down from the summit to the Entiat River and hiked the intermittent Entiat River Trail 1400 to a brief section of Trail 1431 that connected us to the Ice Creek/Ice Lakes trail 1405. We had to navigate through the Entiat Valley and Ice Creek burn by headlamp, in a fierce storm, with much of the trail having been destroyed by fire. There were miles of charred windfall we had to step/climb over and circle around. After a 16+ mile adventure, we returned to camp at 9:30 PM. From 6:30PM to 9:30PM we had traveled in a sleet and snow storm and were utterly drenched. Our well staked out and anchored tent (boulders, and a guy line from tent to tree) was barely holding up to the onslaught of incredibly powerful wind and gusts (60-70mph? as estimated by others camped in the area), as well as wind driven sleet and snow. Three tents of others camped in the Icel Lakes area that night had broken tent poles before the night was through. The next morning we woke to an alpine winter wonderland, with new snow blanketing everything above 6,000 feet and ice encrusted rocks. Rather than continuing with our alpine agenda, we aborted our trip early (giving up on our plans to continue on to Holden, Lyman Lakes, North Star, and over Spider Gap back to Genius and out). "You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em..." Under different conditions, our Buckskin Mtn route would have taken much less time. The descent down North Spectacle's north face was made more complicated due to frozen solid glacial till in the upper basin, and frost covered vegetation in the steep, timbered slopes below (and ice in the drainage gully). Also, our return to Ice Lakes via the Entiat River trail was made more complex due to the Entiat Fire having had consumed much of the trail. It was early October, when there is roughly 12 hours of daylight, and an evening storm more violent than predicted descended upon us. We had to navigate through burn, dark, and storm back to our high camp at Upper Ice Lakes. That said, with map, compass and altimeter, we made quick progress and succeeded in staying on route all the way back to the sanctuary of our tent and warm sleeping bags, where we rode out the storm in a gyrating tent that any moment could have been shredded to ribbons). Still, fun times!
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